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Nye County teams’ season starts this weekend

Pahrump Valley Trojans Volleyball

The Lady Trojans volleyball team is coming off a productive summer. They are looking to come back this year and finish better than second place in the Sunset League Division I-A and do some serious damage this year in the playoffs. This year the girls hit two volleyball camps around late July. One camp was by Dixie State here in Pahrump and the other was at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Trojans Coach Jill Harris talked enthusiastically about the UNLV camp. “When we came on the court at UNLV we got some stares. This year we have one of our tallest teams that I have ever had, but at UNLV camp most of the teams were taller and that is why they stared at us coming into the gym on the third day. It was the first time we have ever gotten into a gold bracket in anything. We finished the camp the sixth best team out of 25,” Harris explained.

The defense will have experienced diggers such as Lauren Ashford. She started last year with the Trojans as a transfer from New Mexico. She adjusted well to the change and has been a strong edition to the team. Shayla Dance returns to finish her senior year and will be doing a lot of blocking. Dance and Andi Bishop will be the two main blockers and Harris said the two of them are doing a great job.

“Jill Smith has grown and is tall,” Harris Said. “My defense was just great and is the best it’s been at this point in the season ever. We frustrated the hell out of the club teams at that camp. The team defensively has been working hard and the camp was good for team bonding. Our chemistry is there and we are ready for the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament. We are further ahead at this point than last year because we played a lot of ball this summer.”

On offense, Jill Smith will be the main setter. The outside hitters will be Alyssa Murphy, Lauren Koenig and Alexis Tried. Harris said her most consistent server is senior Samantha Altiero and the toughest server is Alexis Trieb.

The Trojans will be at the Las Vegas Volleyball Invitational.

Beatty Hornets

The Lady Hornets are back and once again Hornets Coach Dale Lerbakken will lead them on the court. This will be his second year after taking a break from volleyball. The Hornets made it to the playoffs last year and this year they hope to finish deeper in the Division IV playoff tourney.

Lerbakken said he had 22 girls come out for the sport this year. Last year he had some great freshmen come out and they are still playing.

He said his main hitters will be Claudia Granados, Anel and Vanessa Gamboa, Denise Gonzales and Eaire Davis.

At the moment, his best servers are Alexia Gil and Dalia Mejia. On defense for blockers, he will be going with Eaire Davis and Claudia Granados. “I have a number of good servers. Besides those names already listed you can add Maggie Cathcart and Erin Young to them. We will be ready for our first game with lots of enthusiasm,” Lerbakken said.

The Hornets play their first home game on Sept. 12.

Tonopah Muckers

The Lady Muckers will be trying to maintain the same intensity with a new coach this year. For the past three years, the Muckers have played hard and have been strong contenders in the Division IV playoffs.

Last Monday the Lady Muckers welcomed Chuck Fox as the new volleyball varsity coach. It has not been easy to find a replacement for Harvey Gonzalez, but the Tonopah High School hired a longtime volunteer, who was well known by the players.

Fox has been involved with the Lady Muckers Volleyball program for many years. “I had just retired after 29 years of working and figured it would give me something else to do, plus I like the volleyball program and believe in the girls and in their ability,” he said. At this point, the new varsity coach does not expect too many changes compared to previous years. “I think it is a well-rounded program and it works,” he affirmed.

His coaching philosophy is clear: “To let the girls learn, grow, become better players and the most important to me is that they have fun, both on the court, practice and road trips,” the coach explained. He expects to take one game at a time and learn from their mistakes. “I hope that the girls will want to succeed to the point that I am just there, and they are the force that will win games,” he remarked.

Fox has 11 returning players from last year. “I am hoping each one will be able to contribute to the team as we work our way towards state. Each one has her own strong points which benefit the team,” he said.

To lead the team to achieve their goals, Fox can rely on an experienced assistant coach, Dana Friel. She too was a strong candidate to become the new varsity coach. “I was hoping that Dana Friel would be able to take the position, but as busy as she is with everything else she has going on, she was not able to,” he explained. “I have a great assistant coach with Friel, who I cannot thank enough for stepping up and taking care of things. Her dedication is something that will help me through the season,” he said.

Fox is very optimistic after less than a week as varsity coach. “I felt like this was going to be a great year. I have an enthusiastic team, willing to go all out and get the job done,” he said proudly. The team has been working hard on the court to get ready for the upcoming season despite having a tough schedule. “I wish we had some more home games, as always. We play Alamo early on in the season, where in years past we always played them towards the end. We have two new schools in the league this year, Quest Academy and Beaver Dam. Sandy Valley last year had built up some depth in their program so that will be an interesting matchup, depending on who graduated and who is still there. Beatty and Indian Springs always have the potential so each game will be a learning curve,” Coach Fox explained.

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